202 VERDICT OX IXDIA
the denial by some smug generalization of Fabian doctrine. It is
difficult to imagine Christ greeting a beggar with a lecture on
And so, when the little girl began, to rub her finger round and
round the tin I took down my suitcase and began to fumble hastily
around to see whether there might be something in it which she
could eat. The result was not very happy—a small tin of tongue,
a bottle of tomato juice, a tin of sardines, and some canned beans.
Still it was something, and one could add a rupee or two.
I tried to open the window. As usual it stuck. I tugged harder; it
suddenly seemed vitally important to give this food to the little girl.
•Can I help?*
It was my travelling companion, a pleasant-faced young Hindu
who had joined the train late the night before, and had clambered
straight into the upper berth.
6If you wouldn't mind...'
He climbed down and went to the window. Then he noticed
the tins, and paused.
'Were you thinking of giving those to the people outside ?"
'Yes. Itns all I have."
"It wouldn't do any good. They couldn't eat it.5
'I should have thought they'd eat anything ?'
He shook his head. " Xo. They only eat rice/
I looked out at the little girl. Surely at least she could have
had some of the beans ?
* All the same/ I said, kl wish we could open this window. I
have a little money...'
e But they could not buy anything with it. There is no food here.
That is why they are all at the station, to board trains that will
take them to Calcutta.'
The train was beginning to move, and just at that moment the
window flew open of its own accord. There would still have been
time to hand out my pathetic presents, but somehow it didn't
seem any use. As the rows of silent skeletons streamed past the
window I began to wonder if anything was of any use, short of a
miraculous deluge of manna from the hard and burning heavens.
I turned to my Hindu friend. 'Did you mean it literally, when
you said they only ate rice ?'